The allegations come after Ellen DeGeneres apologized to her staff in a letter addressing workplace complaints

By Aurelie Corinthios
July 31, 2020 11:44 AM
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Former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show have anonymously alleged sexual misconduct and harassment involving top producers at the show, according to a report published Thursday by BuzzFeed News.

The former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, leveled allegations about the culture behind the scenes of the show, including against head writer Kevin Leman and executive producer Ed Glavin.

Leman and another producer have denied the allegations against them in separate statements. Glavin has not yet publicly addressed the allegations.

A spokesperson for WarnerMedia declined to comment on the report. A rep for Ellen DeGeneres did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

The new allegations came after DeGeneres, 63, issued an apology to the staff members of her daytime talk show after former employees described the workplace environment as "toxic" in a previous BuzzFeed News report. In her lengthy memo, the host took responsibility for the issues raised at the show and said she and her team are taking steps "to correct" them. The show is also undergoing an internal investigation by WarnerMedia.

From left: Jonathan Norman, Andy Lassner, Kevin Leman, Ed Glavin and Mary Connelly
Frederick M. Brown/Getty

According to BuzzFeed News' new report, one former employee alleged Leman solicited him for oral sex at a company party in 2013. Others alleged they saw him grope and kiss employees, and nearly a dozen alleged he frequently made sexually explicit comments.

In a statement to PEOPLE on Friday, Leman said the BuzzFeed News report is "filled with false claims that misrepresent me, my actions and all that I stand for."

"I categorically deny any kind of sexual impropriety," he said. "I started at the Ellen Show as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold. While my job as head writer is to come up with jokes — and, during that process, we can occasionally push the envelope — I'm horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense. I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect. In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I've never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published."

Regarding Glavin, BuzzFeed News reported that five former employees claimed he touched them inappropriately, and dozens said he was known for "being handsy with women." Former employees also told the outlet they were uncomfortable when Glavin used his private shower in his office bathroom.

According to BuzzFeed, 47 former employees said Glavin led with intimidation and fear on a daily basis. Glavin did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Ellen DeGeneres
Brooks Kraft/Getty

The report also includes what BuzzFeed News describes as one former employee's allegation that co-executive and music producer Jonathan Norman "groomed him over a period of time" by taking him to concerts, and then on one occasion attempted to perform oral sex on him. Three of the employee's former colleagues on the show reportedly corroborated that he told them about the incident with Norman at the time, but Norman has said the claim is false.

In a statement to PEOPLE on Friday, Norman said, "I am 100% categorically denying these allegations. I have never had a single complaint of any misconduct against me in my career. Period. I have never 'groomed' anyone."

"I took the employee to one concert, over seven years ago, along with two other members of my staff — my female assistant, and another male staff member, which I documented on my social media pages. At no point was I ever alone with the staff member, and I have witnesses who can prove that," he said.

"I am the Music Producer at the show and have taken dozens of staff members with me to concerts. That's the perk of my job," he said. "I routinely wind up with extra concert tickets or music swag that I always offer to junior members of the staff. We are a show that loves music. There is no favoritism involved. I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever."

In her memo to employees on Thursday, DeGeneres promised change to improve the day-to-day environment.

"My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that," she wrote. "Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we've grown exponentially, I've not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I'd want them done. Clearly some didn't. That will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again."

She promised to do her "part" in pushing herself and others "to learn and grow."

"We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I'm glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention," she said. "I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It's important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so."

In a statement on Thursday, Warner Bros said "dozens of current and former employees" had been interviewed, and that they were "disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show's day-to-day management."

Moving forward, Warner Bros. said they have "identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them."

"Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show," the statement concluded.

Glavin and fellow executive producers Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner said in a previous statement that they take full responsibility for daily operations on the show.

"Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe and inclusive work environment," they said in a joint statement to BuzzFeed News earlier this month. "We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience."

"It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us," they added at the time. "For the record, the day-to-day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."